A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

I Know You're Not From Texas, But Texas Wants You Anyway!

The 2004 Platform of the Texas Republican Party is like salted peanuts, or Lay's Potato Chips. Once you start snacking from it, you just can't stop. It is also nearly as entertaining as the movie Animal Crackers. I find it very difficult to read more than a paragraph at a time without ROFLMAO.

The detachment of the Texas Republicans from the consequences of the policies they advocate is too colossal to be anything but innocent. However, the innocence is too colossal to be anything but inane.

Now I am not talking about things like opposing abortion or gay marriage. Anyone may do this and still not make a fool of themselves. Nor am I talking about impeaching Federal judges because you don't like their decisions, and so decide to call them "crimes". Advocating this doesn't make you a fool, though it does make you a morally corrupt blackguard, like Tom DeLay. I'm talking about things much more zany than that. There are many other "conservative" positions and proposed policies that I don't agree with, but that don't imply softening of the brain on the part of the people who believe in them. These do.

Let's first examine some of the ways the Texas Republican Party believes that the Federal Government as a whole should be limited:

The Party urges that the IRS be abolished and the Sixteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution be repealed. We further urge that the personal income tax, inheritance tax, gift tax, corporate income tax, and payroll tax be eliminated. We recommend the implementation of a national retail sales tax....Such a sales tax plan must insure that no one in America pays taxes of any kind on the necessities of life...

The Party demands the elimination of Presidential authority to issue Executive Orders, Presidential decision directives, and other administrative mandates that do not have Congressional approval. Further, we demand a repeal of all previous Executive Orders and administrative mandates.....

Congress should be urged to exercise its authority and should withhold appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in such cases involving religious freedom, and all rights guaranteed under the Bill of Rights.....

The Party supports the limitation of the criminal jurisdiction of federal law-enforcement agencies to the high seas, federal institutions, and counterfeiting operations [and] opposes the expansion of Federal law enforcement authority and the use of military personnel and equipment against American citizens....

Now, what do these sum to? Well, first of all let's consider that 30% of all income in the United States is collected in income taxes to fund the Federal Government. Now replacing all this with a sales tax, with broad exceptions for the "necessities of life" would mean that everything to do with food, clothing, shelter, and transportation would be exempt from tax. This is about 70-80% of household expenditures for most of us. Since a sales tax of no more than 10% is all any politically adept Congress would dare pass, the Federal revenues would contract from about 30% of income in the United States, to 3% or less!

Well, how would the President be able to run the government be with 97% of the revenue evaporating? The answer is not at all, whether the taxes change or not. Why? Simple. The legal basis for all Executive Branch action are the Executive Orders, presidential directives, and administrative mandates. Every scrap of Cabinet department policy--including the Defense Department, the Intelligence Agencies, and the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security--is based simply and solely on those orders, directives, and mandates. For Congress to eliminate in law the President's power to issue them and rescind every one of them (the numbered Executive Orders alone stretch back to 1862!) would obliterate every single bureaucratic policy and procedure in the entire government! It would be tantamount to shutting down the Executive Branch and turning the President into a constitutional monarch.

But it gets better than this. The federal appeals courts make no decisions about the facts of any court case, they only make decisions about whether the law was properly applied. The ultimate court of appeal is the Supreme Court and it generally tests cases only against the standards of the Constitution. If there is no substantial constitutional issue, the court does not hear the case. What the Texas Republican Party is calling for is blocking the power of the Court to do just that. The men and women in the black robes could sit for their yearly official picture, collect their salaries, and never see each other again.

Now I presume that The Party would extend this ban to the Circuit Courts as well. After all, one could not have different and conflicting appellate decisions about any constitutional issue left unresolved. So no federal review of law for any court decision in the entire country would ever occur again. This amounts to shutting down the Judicial Branch of the government as well, except for trying specific criminal cases.

But we probably wouldn't need all those Federal District Courts either. Since Federal legal jurisdiction would essentially be eliminated from almost all of the United States, one court in Washington D.C. would probably suffice.

I presume Congress would have to take all the necessary administrative functions of the Executive and Judicial branches over. Since, as it is, they already have a hard time passing laws in a timely fashion, functionally, taken all together, the Texas Republican Party is essentially calling for the elimination of the Federal Government.

Now, of course, like all good Parties with the best interests of America at heart, the Texas Republican Party wants this now non-existent Federal Government to do quite a lot of things: protect the country from terrorists, improve the homeland security of vulnerable institutions around the country, make war against rogue regimes that sponsor terrorism or pursue acquisition of Weapons of Mass Destruction, close all our borders to illegal immigration with military troops, and so forth.

Idiots. Utter idiots.

I'll have more to say in a further post about how the Texas Republican Party feels about the details of how the Federal Government should fight terrorism and insure homeland security.


Blogger clint said...

I'm not even going to try to support most of these planks... but re: repealling most Federal taxes... there's an alternative you missed.

Before the 16th amendment, the Federal government was funded by the states -- it levied taxes from the state governments (in proportion to the number of citizens, as determined by census). Then each state had to figure out how it wanted to come up with the money -- some with income taxes, some with sales taxes, some with corporate taxes, some with real estate taxes...

I wouldn't mind seeing us go back to such a situation. Think of it as a move against the tide of increasing national homogeneity.

I'd also be fine with keeping most criminal justice in the state courts. If nothing else, it provides an additional level of appeal, and thus more protection of our civil rights.

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